Q: I understand that in Washington State it is legal to make a left turn from a two-way street onto a one-way street at a red light. Does this apply when turning onto an on-ramp? — George S., Tacoma
A: Wait … what?!?
Let’s back up a minute here, George.
You’re telling us that it is legal to turn left from a two-way street onto a one-way street after stopping at a red light?
Sure it is, George. Uh-huh. Right.
We here at Traffic Q&A headquarters usually shy away from shooting down our readers’ positions, but sometimes it’s necessary for the greater good.
Let us see what the RCWs have to say about left-on-red, shall we?
(typing, clicking, typing, reading)
Well, we’ll be darned.
It appears that George is correct.
Here’s what RCW 46.61.055, the snappily titled, “Traffic control signal legend,” has to say about it:
“… vehicle operators facing a steady circular red signal may, after stopping, proceed to make a right turn from a one-way or two-way street or into a two-way street or into a one-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the right turn; or a LEFT TURN from a one-way or TWO-WAY STREET into a one-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the left turn …”
We added the all-caps in the above verbiage because we’re screaming it to the heavens!
Left on red from a two-way street … who knew?
Aside from George, we mean.
RCW 46.61.055 goes on to address what’s legal at a steady red arrow:
“… vehicle operators facing a steady red arrow indication may, after stopping, proceed to make … a left turn from a one-way street or two-way street into a one-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the left turn …”
Now, all this left turning can be undone by an official sign proclaiming that it can’t be done, and the Washington Driver Guide warns to be on the lookout for pedestrians no matter what kind of turning you’re doing.
Having addressed the truly interesting part of George’s question, we’ll move on to this “ramp” business.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a definitive answer for that, as our usually reliable sources did not get back to us by deadline.
But remember, squeamish drivers (those of us who scribble for a living included), that you don’t have to turn left on red even if it’s legal to do so. Or right, for that matter.
You can always just wait for that soothing green.